Hello there! Today you may read my interview to Eric Merritt about ErlangCamp, the Erlang event I promoted recently in one of my posts. Hope many of you will book a ticket!
Talking about ErlangCamp!
Paolo – Hi Eric. Before talking about the ErlangCamp, would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
Eric – Sure. I am one of the authors of Erlang and OTP in Action and a founding member of the Erlware Community. I have been involved in Erlang/OTP since about ’99, right after it was released as Open Source. I have done some interesting things in my working life and have had a lot of involvement in the Open Source community. I also have a keen interest in seeing the Erlang/OTP Community grow and prosper.
Paolo – So, what is ErlangCamp and where will it take place this year?
Eric – ErlangCamp is a hard and fast introduction to OTP, modeled loosely on our book Erlang and OTP in Action. Think of it as an intense two day workshop that is designed to get you up to speed on OTP. This year we are doing our first ErlangCamp outside of the United States, in A Coruña Spain. The Universidade Da Coruña is graciously hosting us there.
Paolo – Why did you decide to organize this yearly event? Who are the other organizers?
Eric – ErlangCamps have always been about increasing the level of knowledge and skill around OTP in the Erlang/OTP Community. That was our goal going into the very first ErlangCamp in Chicago and nothing has changed since. We want every Erlanger to have the ability to build large scale fault tolerant Erlang/OTP Systems and we want to spread that knowledge far and wide.
The organizers change a bit from year to year. The core organizers that seem to participate every year are myself, Martin Logan and Jordan Wilberding. This year we also have Ram C Singh and Laura Castro participating. In the past Tristan Sloughter and Garret Smith have played a big part as well.
Paolo – What should expect and erlang developer attending to ErlangCamp? What topics will be covered?
Eric – You should expect to walk out of ErlangCamp with a good idea of how to use Erlang and OTP to build large scale, fault tolerant systems. You won’t learn everything, of course (two days just is not enough), but you should learn enough to lay a foundation of knowledge that you can continue to build on.
The course includes basic OTP (OTP Applications, Releases, Behaviours, Gen Servers, Supervisors, etc), building Distributed Systems, and debugging Erlang OTP Systems. Its a lot of information to stuff into a two day conference.
Paolo – What are the main differences about ErlangCamp and many other conferences organized every year around the world?
Eric – The biggest difference is that ErlangCamp isn’t actually a conference in the traditional sense. It is a two day teaching workshop where you get hands on experience with the language and platform. There are generally four speakers doing the training, each takes a part of the OTP Platform and trains the users on that part. The talks are designed to work together to get the user up to speed on Erlang OTP.
Paolo – There are several price solutions if you want to buy a ticket for attending ErlangCamp, but all are fairly cheap. Why did you decide to keep prices so low?
Eric – That is easy, we want people to attend. We have found that most of the attendees pay for their tickets to ErlangCamp out of their own pocket. They probably do Erlang/OTP at home, or are just sneaking it into work on side projects, but they very seldom have the backing of their company. So when they buy a ticket to ErlangCamp they are really putting their own money on the line in an effort to learn more about Erlang and OTP. We love that! Want to continue to see it happen. So we try very hard to price things at just enough to cover our expenses. Those expenses usually revolve around the venue, food and drinks during the conference and travel costs for the speakers and thats it. ErlangCamp almost never generates a profit and when it does its very small and usually rolled directly into the next years Camp. Its all about getting the knowledge out there into the community for us.
Paolo – Where can our readers find more information or book a ticket for ErlangCamp?
Paolo – So far, ErlangCamp took place in different cities in the USA and this year it will be in Europe. How can someone suggest next year location to the organizers?
Eric – The biggest requirement that for an ErlangCamp is that we have someone on site in the proposed city that can do the footwork for us. There is a huge amount of local planning, venue searching, and advertising that needs to happen. So having a very reliable volunteer on site to do that work is absolutely critical. Given that; the other requirements are what you would expect. We look for a reasonably sized city that is easy to get to by air and preferably has a good sized tech community. If someone would like to be our onsite volunteer and propose their city for an upcoming ErlangCamp they can do by emailing us organizers at email@example.com
Paolo – I do believe during ErlangCamp there will be much to say about OTP. Do you think OTP is fundamental for building highly distributed and fault tolerant applications in Erlang?
Eric – Absolutely. If you are writing Erlang systems you should be using OTP period. When you step out of OTP (and you do need to step out on occasion) you should have a very clear understanding of why and you should document that thoroughly. If you liken Erlang and OTP to C and Assembler; OTP is your high-level language and Erlang is your assembler. Just like in C there are times when you need to drop into Erlang as your assembler, but you shouldn’t be doing it often and when you do you should have a damn good reason for it.
Paolo – Would you like to thank someone for the help provided in organizing this year ErlangCamp?
Eric – Absolutely. Our onsite organizer this year, Laura Castro, has been absolutely critical to bringing off this years Camp. She along with her Employer, the Universidade da Coruña, have gone above and beyond in every way to bring this years event to Fruition and we can’t thank her enough.
ErlangCamp is a conference organized by Martin Logan, Jordan Wilberding and Eric Merritt, in order to gather developers from all over the world and
discuss about designing fault tolerant distributed systems in Erlang. Maybe, ‘conference’ is not the right term here, because during the two days of the event you will focus on learning much and fast OTP.
If you think that a ticket for the ErlangCamp costs a lot…well, you can’t be more mistaken! The price is only $100! The organizers decided to keep the price so low in order to gather a massive amount of developers. Knowing that most of the attendee will be paying the ticket with their own money, they were able to cut down the conference costs by asking space and colloraborion to the Universidade de Coruña.
By paying the cost of the ticket + the cost of the dinner you will also be able to spend several hours on Friday night with Martin, Jordan and Merrit and talk with them about their experiences with Erlang.
In my humble opinion, this is a very good way to learn more about Erlang development, spend some good time with many developers coming from all around the world and to discover the famous city of A Coruña which is a well known vacation place.